Meet Notable Italian Somalis

In this article, we’ll introduce Italian Somalis descendants from Italian colonists, as well as long-term Italian residents in Somalia.


Jonis Bashir is a Somali-Italian actor and musician.  Bashir is son of Muheddin Hagi Bashir, and was born in Rome, Italy 1960. His father is Somali and his mother is Italian. Growing up, Bashir lived six to ten years in Somalia. He is a relative of Haji Bashir Ismail Yusuf, the first President of the Somali National Assembly. Bashir is married to Nicoletta.

Professionally, Bashir is best known for his role on the * Un medico in famiglia (1998–2008, Rai 1) television series. He has also appeared in Il mercante di pietre (it) (The Stone Merchant, 2006), Anita Garibaldi (2012) and Regalo a sorpresa (2013). Additionally, Bashir regularly performs with his own band.



Annalena Tonelli (2 April 1943 – 5 October 2003) was an Italian lawyer and social activist. She worked for 33 years in East Africa, where she focused on tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, campaigns for eradication of female genital mutilation, and special schools for hearing-impaired, blind and disabled children.

In 1969 Tonelli moved to Kenya, where she began working as a teacher at Wajir Secondary School. After some years studied to be a nurse and spent over a decade in the town of Wajir caring for the destitute and ill.

Tonelli first settled in the southern port town of Merca, which during the colonial period was part of Italian Somaliland. She later moved to Borama in the northwestern Awdal region, a town in the former British Somaliland protectorate. Tonelli would spend the next 19 years working in Somalia.

In Borama, Tonelli founded a tuberculosis hospital on the grounds of a colonial period facility. Her family and friends in Italy helped finance the hospital, contributing $20,000 a month for maintenance.


Cristina Ali Farah (born 1973 in Verona, Italy) is an Italian writer of Somali and Italian origin.

Born in Italy to a Somali father and an Italian mother, Farah grew up in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. She attended an Italian school there until the Somalia Civil War broke out in 1991.

Farah and her family subsequently relocated to Pécs, Hungary, but then later moved to her birthplace, Verona, Italy. There, she obtained an Italian LettereUniversity degree at La Sapienza University in Rome, where she currently resides.

Since 1999, Farah has been involved in intercultural education with projects developed for students, teachers and female immigrants revolving around tales, post-colonial literature and immigration topics. In these areas, she has collaborated with various Italian associations and NGOs such as Cies, Candelaria, Kel’lam, the Intercultural Forum of Caritas, and l’Ass. Prezzemolo.

For some time, Farah also contributed to Somali linguistic studies at the linguistic department of the Third University of Rome, participating in the “Scritture migranti” (“migrant writing”) conference that was held between November–December 2004 in Campidoglio in Rome. She participated in the fifth Migrant Italian Writers Seminar organized by Sagarana in July 2005.


Saba Anglana (born November 17, 1970) is a Somali-Italian actress and international singer.

Saba was born in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, during the country’s socialist period. Her mother was the daughter of an exiled Somali living in neighboring Ethiopia. Her father was a former commander in the Italian military, who relocated to Somalia from Italy after the Second World War.

Due to Saba’s dad’s senior martial background with the erstwhile colonial administration, he was regarded by Somalia’s then military regime as a possible spy. The Anglanas were subsequently exiled to Italy, when she was still a child.

Saba was thereafter raised in Italy, where she later studied at the Sapienza University in Rome. Her Somali roots, however, remained an important focus. She studied the Somali language with her mother; particularly the regional dialect of Xamar Weyne, connecting with Somalia through music.



Luciano Ceri (born 25 March 1951) is an Italian singer-songwriter, journalist and radio host. Ceri was born in 1951 to Italian parents in Mogadishu. The city was at the time the capital of Italian Somaliland. Ceri would later move to Italy to begin his music career.

Ceri originally started off by playing in beat bands; then proceeded to play in the 70’s the group of progressive rock, Big Fall. During the band’s three years they recorded two albums for EMI Italian. The group would later dissolve after only three years after forming. Ceri would then later go on to work as a songwriter, performing often at Folkstudio and it is precisely with the label of Giancarlo Cesaroni, the owner of the premises, which publishes his solo album in 1987.

Zahra Bani a Casa Italia Beijing 2008

Zahra Bani a Casa Italia Beijing 2008

Zahra Bani (born 31 December 1979 in Mogadishu, Somalia) is a Somali-Italianjavelin thrower. Bani was born in 1979 in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, to an Italian father and a Somali mother. In 1989, she moved to Torino, Italy with her family and started playing volleyball. She soon thereafter discovered her specialty: javelin. Bani’s personal best throw is 62.75 metres, achieved at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki. However, since 2005, she has been suffering from health problems, which have significantly hampered her athletic performances. Bani ranks second on the all-time Italian list behind Claudia Coslovich.


Fabio Liverani (born 29 April 1976) is an Italian football manager and former midfielder. Fabio Liverani was born in Rome, Italy in 1976 to a Somali mother and an Italian father making him an Italo-Somalo. He made his professional footballing debut with Viterbese of Serie C2 in 1996–97. However, it was not until his transfer to Perugia over the 2000–01 season that he showed his full potential.

From 2001 to 2006, Liverani played for Lazio in Italy’s Serie A. Despite a string of lacklustre performances by the club, he earned a call-up to the national team during the pre-World Cup stage held on 2 and 3 May. However, he was not re-called for the FIFA World Cup.

The 2006 season saw Liverani move to Fiorentina. He played a total of two seasons with the team, being instrumental in the Viola’s successful 2007–2008 Serie A campaign, which ended with Fiorentina securing fourth place in the League’s final standings. This ensured the club a spot in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League 2008-09. Fiorentina and Liverani parted company the following season.

Source: WIKI

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